LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "Studies show an average teenager was receiving 3 thousand or sending 3 thousand text messages. And, they were spending 14 hours in a week playing on the video games. So, you can imagine the amount of sheer stress that's on the joints," said Rhuematology Doctor Swati Kumar of the Memorial Hospital System of East Texas.
Young adults are starting to show signs of repetitive trauma. Repeated mashing of phone buttons to text or the motions involved with playing games are damaging the nerves and joints of children as young as 7.
"The younger kids, like 7 and 8, their tendons and joints are still developing. And, if you're repeatedly stressing these joints, obviously it will tend to have arthritis prematurely," said Kumar.
Signs of pain are a generally a warning sign. A sign some gamers chose to ignore.
"I mean, when I play a lot, I experience pains in my hands, but that's about it," said 19-year-old Lufkin gamer, Craig Little.
"It's just kind of tiredness in between the joints I guess," said 18-year-old Apple Springs gamer, Justin Steptoe.
Gamers and texters find it hard to tear themselves away from the escapism of technology, even if it means saving their health.
"It's a basically, an alternate reality, you know, we get to escape from every, you know, the everyday hustle and bustle," said 25-year-old Lufkin gamer, Logan Penadela.
"Because games are so addicting, I mean, I just forget about the pain," said Little.
Some games are more harmful than others. Dr. Kumar says Blackberry phones cause more repetitive stress than iPhones while Wii game systems are more harmful than other systems.
"Wii was one of the highest reported video game console devices that cause a lot of wrist pain and finger pain," said Kumar.
If gamers don't experience pain now, Dr. Kumar warns eventually the pain will catch up.
"They will pay, or their joints will pay for this later on in life," said Kumar.
Still some gamers aren't worried.
"A little bit of pain in between my joints after playing all this much is a little bit worth it I guess," said Steptoe.
Steptoe hopes by the time health concerns catch up to him, there will be a way to fix that problem too.
"Let my future stuff worry about it. By then, they'll probably have some kind of cream or something that gets rid of the pain," said Steptoe.
While you don't have to eliminate texting and game play from your life, Dr. Kumar says moderation does wonders.
"You should play on weekends, and not play more than an hour a day or you know, play on certain you know play on weekends and not play daily because it's the duration of play and the time," said Kumar.
Gamer Logan Penadela says that's exactly why he doesn't worry about his health.
"I don't really worry about that because I know how to limit myself, but other people may not," said Penadela.
For Lufkin Boys and Girls Club Director, Tracy Mitchell, it's health dangers like these that keep him from letting kids game away.
"They sit and play games for 3 to 4 to 5 hours. And, I can see where the arthritis can kind of take a, you know, toll on your hands," said Mitchell.
He says physical activity is the best use of children's time at his after-school care facility.
"To sit in a corner and play a video game, I don't feel like you're utilizing the facility. So, I let them rotate different places so they can get some physical," said Mitchell.
With more moderation and consideration to health needs, Dr. Kumar says we all can prevent a generation of premature arthritis.